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Oxford COVID vaccine promising in elderly

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A key researcher at the university says this is important because vaccines often don't work as well in older people.

The Government was investigating the cool-chain storage technology available for this vaccine, while New Zealand is one of only a handful of countries in an advanced arrangement with Pfizer.

Rutgers is also one of 90 sites across the US for Moderna's phase 3 vaccine trial.

"The robust antibody and T-cell responses seen in older people in our study are encouraging", explains the co-author of the study, Dr Maheshi Ramasamy from the University of Oxford.

Pollard's comments came after data published on Thursday showed the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in Phase II studies produced a strong immune response in older adults, suggesting that those at higher risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19 could be protected.

That could be a nod to revelations that the Pfizer vaccine, which is based on leading-edge technology and has already completed trials, needs to be kept at around minus 70 degrees Celsius, which could make storing and transporting it hard, particularly in developing countries.

Serum Institute of India (SII), Pune, has inked deals with Oxford-AstraZeneca, Codagenix and Novavax to manufacture their vaccines.

The phase 3 trial, which an Oxford professor said will "definitely" read out by Christmas, has a more diverse population and will show whether the immune responses translate into fewer cases of symptomatic COVID-19. Storage of the vaccine at specific temperatures will be a major hurdle since vaccine candidates in contention have different storage requirements. Moderna's vaccine appears equally effective.

In this Thursday, April 23, 2020 file screen grab taken from video issued by Britain's Oxford University, showing a person being injected as part of the first human trials in the United Kingdom to test a potential coronavirus vaccine, untaken by Oxford University in England. Oxford and AstraZeneca are waiting for the results of phase III trials on thousands of people around the world to show whether their vaccine is safe and effective.

"Larger studies are now underway to evaluate immunogenicity, safety and efficacy in older adults with a wider range of comorbidities", the Lancet report notes. People of all ages experienced a specific antibody response to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and receptor-binding domain 28 days after getting the first vaccine dose.

Although there is still more work to be done, the research team was encouraged by today's results. The oldest adults involved - with an average age of 73-74 years - showed milder adverse reactions, according to early results published Thursday.

'I am confident that the COVID-19 vaccine will be ready in the next three-four months, ' he said.

Responses were "similar" across all age groups, the researchers said.

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